I’m writing this as I fly home from the Agile2015 conference, or what Jake Calabrese rightfully calls “summer camp.” I headed into the week planning to focus on sessions related to product ownership or one of its related fields, as I described a couple of weeks ago. As a result, I found myself attending several user experience-related sessions, which helped to expand my understanding of that field. I also attended some sessions on topics I’m a bit more familiar with such as ideas from Lean Startup, and I also attended a couple of sessions that just sounded fun.
Below is a quick summary of the sessions I got the most out of. These sessions tended to discuss fairly simple techniques but did a deep enough dive that I was able to get some good nuggets out of them. A few of these sessions prompted some ideas that I’ll explore in more depth a bit later.
The link to Session Details takes you to the conference’s online conference and depending on whether the presenter uploaded it, you’ll be able to get the presentation from that location.
Consensus That Sticks
Jeremy Kriegel @sonarc
Graphic facilitation can be very helpful for helping a group identify options and reach consensus (i.e. a decision all can support). Affinity mapping is a useful technique that consists of three key steps:
- Idea capture (Real-time/Individual)
- Organizing (Unstructured/Structured)
- Prioritization (Dot Voting/Forced Prioritization)
The different variations of those steps are most helpful in different contexts based on what you are trying to accomplish.
I’m fairly familiar with affinity mapping, so my key takeaways from this session are related to some insights about the various steps of the technique.
- Remember that early ideas stick – people in the team will tend to base new ideas on the first few, so you may limit the variety of options you receive
- Be careful not to get too vague in the header categories.
- Dot voting is a good way to get a feel for the room, but really shouldn’t be used as the sole means of determining a specific decision. I like to use it as a way of deciding the order in which we discuss things further.
- Using a structured organization where you place items relatively on two axis (such as Value and Ease of Implementation) is a good way to have a discussion about the characteristics of the ideas.
- Deciding which risks to mitigate and assumptions to verify can come down to a tradeoff between the cost of being wrong and the value of knowing.
Prototyping: Iterating Your Way to Glory
Iteration is the key to learning successfully. Cognitive biases block your ability to iterate and to learn. Prototypes are a great way to help us communicate and learn and avoid cognitive biases.
Three kinds of prototypes:
- Experiential (wireframes)
Three qualities prototypes can exhibit:
- Visual: Sketched – Styled
- Functional: Static – Interactive
- Content: Sample – Actual
It’s helpful to establish a persona and describe the story of how they may interact with the solution. You may start out with a text version of a customer journey or story map.
As a starting point, it’s helpful to do your prototypes in black & white so people don’t get too distracted by the color.
Create the prototypes and then sit with customers and have questions in mind to ask them. Make sure the questions are open-ended and are not leading.
Matt Wynne @mattwynne
Gherkin alone does not make good acceptance criteria. Likewise writing Gherkin and chucking it over the wall does not mean you’re doing BDD. The important bit is the conversation that leads to shared understanding.
Rules and examples are both important, and it’s best to be in a situation where you have both.
Three Amigos is a black box where a story goes in and additional stories, rules, examples, and a shared understanding come out.
The examples that come out of Three Amigos should not necessarily be written in Gherkin. Rather, it’s helpful to use the Friends Episode naming pattern (The one where…). Likewise, rules can be named “What if…?”
Not every rule needs examples.
Product Owner Value Game
A game that teaches people to think about backlog refinement in a different way. The game is most effective when it is combined with active facilitation while groups are playing the game.
The deck of game cards.
#1 Learning objective for a game for Product Owners is how to become more value-driven.
Backlog Refinement (specifically sequencing) comes down to: What’s most valuable to do at a specific point in time?
Not everything that has value can be measured. Not everything that you measure has value.
To find out more about the Product Owner Value Game go to http://www.povaluegame.org
Organizing for Innovation
David Bland @davidjbland
Organizing for innovation means:
- Actionable strategy to define what you will and will not do.
- Teams give an account with leading indicators
- Creating urgency & expectations with incremental funding on Horizon 3
High retention low satisfaction organizations are prime for disruption
ROI is the worst measure of progress for innovation because it is a lagging indicator. Need a leading indicator to make decisions.
Giving Account > Holding Accountable i.e. Leaders should want their teams to give an account of how they are progressing.
Corporations don’t lack ideas, instead they have trouble deciding which ones to invest in.
What’s my MVP
While the idea of the Minimum Viable Product came out of the world of Lean Startup, it certainly also applies to enterprise situations, with some modifications.
- Form hypotheses and validate them often
- Customer value is a priority
- Start with the end, but look at the whole picture
- Replace larger systems one piece at a time – not big-bang delivery.
- Keep the users involved.
- Continuous integration & continuous delivery
- Keep your MVP small.
Research is not just for the UX Team; Strategies for everyone to understand end-users
A great deal of user experience is doing research. You can basically organize that research into three groups:
- Business models & goals
- End user goals, needs, and behaviors
- How well we’re serving those users.
There are a lot of UX Research methods, and you don’t have to be a UX professional to do them (but they can be very helpful).
Steps to UX Research
- Determine research goal
- Determine research category
- (Cheat) Rely on Experts
- Do it
Keys to Research Success
- Ask the right questions
- Ask the questions the right way
- Practice logistics
A great cheat sheet listing UX Methods and their applicability.